Science Sunday: Urban Goes Rural; Rockies hit outerspace

Red Rocks or Red Sox, it’s all the same to Colorado in finding “home plate.”The suburbs are coming! The suburbs are coming!

Private development adjacent to U.S. Forest Service property will increase dramatically over the next 40 years, potentially imperiling water sources, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, according to a recent report from the U.S. Forest Service.

According to the report National Forests on the Edge:

“In the East, almost all national forests are projected to experience moderate or high increases in residential development. In the West, moderate and high increases in residential development are projected around national forests located in Colorado, California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.”

In addition to the tensions over environmental concerns, increased development along this border with the national forests will probably result in more fire danger. Sixty percent of the houses built in the U.S. in the 1990s were built at the interface between urban and wild lands. There are more fire ignitions when housing density increases, and financial losses from fires are greater.

According to the report, Colorado will experience moderate growth of development near national forests on the Front Range and in southwestern Colorado. “Moderate” is defined as development on 10 to 29 percent of adjacent private land.

The USFS report is available here.

Martian Rocktober

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration got the jump on the World Series by naming a platform being explored within the Gusey Crater on Mars “Home Plate,” and the attendant Martian monoliths around them the “Colorado Rockies.”

There is no word as yet on whether the Martian rocks have had any better success against Boston’s pitching.

In a release, Rep. Mark Udall said:

“I thank NASA for recognizing Colorado’s prominence by naming formations on Mars after our world-renowned peaks and our pennant winning Rockies team. Colorado already has the best mountain range in the country, our aerospace economy is a national leader, and the Colorado Rockies are fighting to establish our state as home to the best team in baseball.  Anyone who has tried to summit a challenging peak knows that you are defined most by how you overcome the setbacks on the way.  Everyone who has followed the Rockies this far knows that these guys have the heart and the fight to chart a path to victory.  The entire state of Colorado – and some parts of Mars – are behind them.  Have faith and keep climbing, fellas.”

Humboldt Peak. As it finished its second Martian year on Mars, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit was beginning to examine a group of angular rocks given informal names corresponding to peaks in the Colorado Rockies. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech